Creative industries election event axed after Labour shuns debate

Labour deputy leader and shadow culture secretary Tom Watson. Photo: Twocoms/Shutterstock
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The Creative Industries Federation has withdrawn from an event with the Labour Party because it was unable devote enough time to Q&A.

Jeremy Corbyn and shadow culture secretary Tom Watson were due to appear at a general election event in Hull on May 22.

The federation, which is a national membership body for the creative industries, originally agreed with the four largest parties – the Conservatives, Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrats – to provide a platform for each to set out its plans for the creative sector and cultural education.

This would include a short speech by a senior party representative and then a rigorous question and answer session with federation members and partners.

The series began in London on Wednesday with Matt Hancock, the digital and cultural minister for the Conservatives. His appearance included nearly one hour of detailed questions on Brexit, the industrial strategy, education in schools, skills, intellectual property, and the role of digital.

A statement from CIF said: “As Labour informed us that they were no longer able to devote a similar amount of time to questioning as the other parties have agreed to, we invited them to reconsider. When we could not agree, we had no choice but to pull out of the event.

“The federation – the national organisation for all the UK’s creative industries, cultural education and arts – has a track record for independence and fearlessness.

“We are, however, non-partisan. We cannot provide a backdrop for campaign events which do not offer the opportunity for proper scrutiny.”

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately we were unable to agree a format for the event with the Creative Industries Federation but we look forward to working with them in the future.”